It was my turn to host Christmas this year, a responsibility bestowed on us all as we get older. The days were lost in a whirlwind of merriment and joy. By the time New Year arrived a complete wind down and serious relaxation was in order – Time to let someone else worry about the cooking and cleaning.
Well Calcot Manor certainly delivered. The 14th century stone manor house set in 220 acres of Cotswolds countryside is a dream come true for overtired parents. From the moment you drive in the welcome sign announces ‘Free Range Children’ which will immediately put parents at ease and probably drive a cold shiver up the back of anyone else. Fear not those on a quest for peacefulness, you can still revel in parts of the hotel that are largely child free.
We were spending a three-day New Years break and on our second visit couldn’t wait to be enveloped in the cosy atmosphere it exudes.
Where Calcot excels is being fully child friendly without eliminating or compromising the luxury. Parents rejoice, decadent weekends are back on the cards and here’s why…
With only 35 rooms, it’s perfect for boutique lovers. The natural colour palette of the room immediately emits an aura of relaxation. I’d describe the style as modern country chic, cosy with a stylish edge.
We were in the family suite with a separate room for the girls and the bunk beds were a winner! The rooms all come with fresh fruit, magazines, Ipod/Iphone dock, a Nespresso machine and the most moorish homemade shortbread. I have to admit we all fought over them each time they were replenished.
The bathroom was huge with a walk in shower and deep bath tub. The girls loved the bath toys, cute mini dressing gowns and their own children’s hair and body wash. And the adults weren’t forgotten with their fluffy gowns, slippers and Aromatherapy Associates toiletries.
If you’re travelling with a baby, the hotel also provide a baby listening service, so during lunchtime naps or in the evening you can enjoy a relaxed bite to eat. Of course babysitting is also available for older children, if booked in advance. All family rooms are kitted out with a baby box too including a steriliser, bottle brush, washing up liquid and bottle warmer. Happy days! We made full use of this box on our first visit to Calcot when Asha was only 6 months old. I remember it being a dream not having to lug all the equipment.
There are two dining options, the Conservatory which is the main more formal restaurant. Breakfast is also served here.
It’s where you can indulge in eggs however you like them and freshly made pancakes to the delight of the girls. Along with a beautiful view out to the Cotswolds countryside. A great start to the day.
The Gumstool Inn is the casual, pub like food spot. I’m talking roaring fireplace, cosy seating and a very relaxed atmosphere.
At 5pm it’s also where the children’s High Tea is served, with a great selection of kiddy friendly meals.
My only gripe, as a vegetarian is the repetitive veggie menu served in all the restaurants. To the point that even my New Years Eve Gala dinner was the same thing I’d eaten during the day in the restaurant. Cue sad face. I can’t quibble about the quality or the taste, which was always superb. Just please don’t serve a vegetarian risotto at a gala dinner – We like to feel special too.
Adults and children are completely spoilt for choice when it comes to activities on offer. The onsite Ofsted registered crèche (Playzone) is a godsend.
Open every day from 9 – 1pm and 1.30 – 5.30pm, it’s a colourful, safe, secure and spacious haven for kids to explore. Once the kids are checked in, a pager is handed to you. It buzzes if you’re needed, so you can relax at ease.
For children over eight there is also the Mez, full of PlayStations, Wii consoles, Xboxes, computers and even a 12-seater cinema. Guests are allowed four hours of complimentary childcare per child per day. My advise book your slots in advance, as you can imagine its very popular.
The swimming pool at the Spa (more on that later) is open to children between 3.45 and 5.15pm. If you weren’t looking you wouldn’t really notice how child friendly the changing facilities actually are.
Equipped with changing mats under the benches, nappy disposal bins and a travel cot to keep wee ones safe whilst you change. In the warmer months you can also make use of the outdoor heated pool.
The hotel also offer complimentary bikes, disc golf, nature trails and a fun pirate play ship, where kids can let off steam.
For a cost you can arrange outdoor pursuits like horse riding, clay pigeon shooting or a Segway experience.
The Calcot Spa is where you will find Mr and Mrs S while the kids are being entertained in the Playzone. A haven of peace, this was definitely my happy place.
You’re spoilt with a sauna, steam room, an indoor swimming pool and an outdoor bubbling hot tub with a crackling log fire – utter bliss.
There are plenty of places to lounge, relax and enjoy refreshments from an herbal tea to a glass of champagne.
Mr S and I started New Years Day on the right foot with heavenly massages. My 80 minutes hot stone body massage ended with a face and scalp reinvigoration. They literally had to prise me off the heated bed after my session. Mr S opted for the traditional one hour Swedish massage, to help keep his marathon training on track. We both walked out with happy smiles on our faces.
My advise for any sleep, me-time and peace deprived parents. Book this place now! The warm, friendly staff really do make you feel at home. Trust me you’ll never want to leave.
Do you have a hotel you keep returning? Let me know in the comments box below.
Calcot Manor | Calcot | Near Tetbury | Gloucestershire | GL8 8YJ
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